“3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” John 3:3-7
The religious Nicodemus, although he had quite a lot of knowledge of the Word of God and certainly participated in many religious rites, was missing an important ingredient that would keep him from Heaven when he died. He needed a second “birth” to have the assurance of eternity with the Father.
When Nicodemus approached Jesus, Christ informed the Pharisee that he must be “born of water” AND a spiritual birth. There has been much question as to what “born of water” means. Many hold incorrectly that it is referring to water baptism. There are also other thoughts about what it means.
The Bible makes it clear that “born of water” is referring to the natural birth. When a mother cries, “My water has broken,” shortly thereafter a child is delivered from the amniotic water where the baby safely resided inside his mother for many months. This is the “born of water” to which these verses refer. Here are many reasons why “born of water” can only be describing the first, natural birth that every living person experiences:
- Verse three specifies that another birth is required to get to heaven: “born again”. This implies that there is a previous birth that all have. It is the natural birth. Substituting “born of water” with water baptism or any other idea of what it means does not even make any sense according to what other Scriptures teach and to the context of what is being spoken of here.
- Verse four indicates even Nicodemus thought that Jesus was referring to the natural birth. Nicodemus questioned, “… How can a man be born when he is old …” There is no way that the religious leader was referring to water baptism or anything else other than the natural birth in this verse.
- Verse five mentions again that there are two births” “born of water” (natural) “AND of the “Spirit” (spiritual). If one believes that “born of water” is referring to baptism or the understanding the Word of God, that “birth” becomes a good work. Good works cannot get anyone to heaven (Eph. 2:8-9).
- “Be born” (“gennao”” in verse five, means “procreate (properly, of the father, but by extension of the mother); figuratively, to regenerate:–bear, beget, be born, bring forth, conceive, be delivered of.” It is applied to the natural and spiritual birth.
- “Water” in verse five figuratively and literally means water. It cannot have any connotation to being knowledge of the Word of God, as some claim it to mean.
- “Ver. 5,6: Flesh at its best can only produce flesh; and since we must become spiritual in order to enter the spiritual kingdom of Jesus. It is inevitable that we must be born again, or else remain strangers to the things of God. Every man must be born twice or die twice: let this never be forgotten.” — C. H. Spurgeon
- Verse six reiterates that there are two different births: flesh and Spirit. When “Spirit” is referenced in these verses it is with capital letters as it is talking about an Individual: the Spirit of God. One can only personally know the Spirit of God when they are born into His family. The natural man cannot have a personal relationship with God because he is not saved from his sins until he is born again.
- “Flesh” (“sarx”), in verse six, is clearly referring to the “meat under the skin.”
- Verse seven reinforces that all, even a religious individual such as the Pharisee Nicodemus, need to have another birth experience. This assumes that all living creatures have the first, natural birth. It would not make sense that this first birth could have anything to do with being baptized or knowing the Word of God (although knowing the Word of God is essential for a spiritual birth to occur), as some teach.
Every person is born the same way — from their mother. That natural birth is not enough to get anyone to heaven. An additional spiritual birth is required to get one to Heaven.
This spiritual birth happens when one first realizes he is a sinner, and realizes he is bound for Hell because of his sins. To change destinations to be with God in His heaven, one must believe and trust that there is nothing one can do to get rid of the wages of their sin — an eternity in the Lake of Fire. There is, however, one that has already paid for our sins. That is Jesus. He died on the Cross, not for anything He had done, but He died as payment for our sins. When we believe His shed blood is payment for our sin debt and ask Him to be our Saviour, we can have God’s promise of eternity with Him. It is then one experiences the spiritual birth. One is then “born-again.”